“Negative Growth” of Real Wages is Normal for Much of the Workforce, and Getting Worse: New York Fed

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And the fate of the consumption-based US economy?

The New York Fed published an eye-opener of an article on its blog, Liberty Street Economics, seemingly about the aging of the US labor force as one of the big economic trends of our times with “implications for the behavior of real wage growth.” Then it explained why “negative growth” – the politically correct jargon for “decline” – in real wages is going to be the new normal for an ever larger part of the labor force.

If you’re wondering why a large portion of American consumers are strung out and breathless and have trouble spending more and cranking up the economy, here’s the New York Fed with an answer. And it’s going to get worse.

The authors looked at the wages of all employed people aged 16 and older in the Current Population Survey (CPS), both monthly data from 1982 through May 2016 and annual data from 1969 through 1981. They then restricted the sample to employed individuals with wages, which boiled it down to 7.6 million statistical observations.

Then they adjusted the wages via the Consumer Price Index to 2014 dollars and divide the sample into 140 different “demographic cohorts” by decade of birth, sex, race, and education. As an illustration of the principles at work, they picked the cohort of white males born in the decade of the 1950s.

That the real median income of men has declined 4% since 1973 is an ugly tidbit that the Census Bureau hammered home in its Income and Poverty report two weeks ago, which I highlighted in this article – That 5.2% Jump in Household Income? Nope, People Aren’t Suddenly Getting Big-Fat Paychecks – and it includes the interactive chart below that shows how the real median wage of women rose 36% from 1973 through 2015, while it fell 4% for men:

This illuminates the New York Fed’s article with a slightly different hue.

The New York Fed report goes a big step further – with white men as an example, perhaps to avoid getting sidetracked into discussions about wages of minorities. It picked men born in the decade of the 1950s to show what happened to their wages over time. And since women’s real wages actually rose over the period, they might make a less persuasive example of how declining real wages should be considered the new normal.

In their analysis, the authors found a common pattern: Wages increase sharply early in the work life, but as workers age, wage growth begins to slow down. There are also variances based on educational attainment, which they separated into five cohorts: Master’s or higher, Bachelor’s, some college, high school diploma, and less than high school.

The chart below shows the percentage change of real wages (left, y-axis) as these men aged (horizontal, x-axis). As young adults, their wages soared by up to 10% a year. Then the rate of growth fell off sharply. When the men in this cohort turned 40 in the 1990s, wage growth disappeared. By around the year 2000, the real wage peak in the US, when the oldest men in this cohort turned 50, wages had begun to decline for most of them. By the time these men were in the mid-50s, their wages across the board were heading south – and for many of them, rapidly. Hence this colorful, drooping spaghetti:


This “negative real wage growth” – devastating as it may be for those experiencing it – is nothing special, according to the New York Fed. And it crushes not just white men, but everyone:

Real wages tend to rise early in a worker’s career, flatten out mid-career, and then decline as the worker approaches retirement. This inverted U-shape pattern is a well-established feature in the labor economics literature.

The report explained it further:

Labor economists explain the rapid real wage growth early in a worker’s career as a combination of on-the-job learning and better matching of workers to jobs. A large portion is due to job matching as workers change jobs in search of a position that better utilizes their skills. As workers age, the decline in the pace of their real wage growth reflects a diminished incentive to invest in new skills (because their remaining work life is shorter) and fewer job changes (because they have found a good job match).

The report divides life for its purposes into three phases, terms of wage growth:

  1. Fast growth, up to age 40
  2. Flat growth, ages 41-54
  3. “Negative growth,” age 55 and older.

Now there’s another problem mucking up the overall and ever-elusive real-wage growth miracle everyone has been counting on: demographics. The US population is aging. There are more people aged 40 and over in the workforce, and their incomes are now flat or declining.

The portion of the population in the first phase when wages are growing fast has plunged from close to 60% in the 1980s to the mid-40% range currently, the report said. And the portion of workers with wages in the “negative growth” phase has ballooned. Given the demographics, real wage declines among workers over 50 will continue to hammer the national averages.

That is why real wages in the US economy are in such trouble, and it’s normal, and the fact that it’s getting worse is normal too, according to the report.

But real wages determine consumer spending. Consumer borrowing can fill some holes, but not in the long run. In the long run, only wage growth can prop up spending. And if the current trend holds, as predicted by the report – with the number of workers over 40 ballooning – then consumer spending is going curdle further, for years or decades to come.

Or is it really all just inevitable demographics, as the New York Fed would have it?

Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton, who presides over endless surveys of American consumers and businesses and knows a thing or two about them, begs to differ. Read…  “Or We’ll Lose the Whole Middle Class”: Gallup CEO

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  110 comments for ““Negative Growth” of Real Wages is Normal for Much of the Workforce, and Getting Worse: New York Fed

    September 27, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Losing the middle class is an understatement. In a trip to San Diego we stayed in Carlsbad, an upper income, high property price locale. In a short trip to a large shopping mall we walked around a portion of the mall, maybe 500 yards to a couple of stores. While there, arriving at around 11 AM, we talked maybe 500 yards to 2 stores.
    In that short walk we saw 2 men sleeping the the shade of doorways into national chain stores and two people at the curb with their cardboard begging signs. This was in a very regional mall. No security and no one asking them to leave.
    San Diego has had a large homeless problem since the 1980s but today there are quadrants of downtown San Diego with sidewalks filled with homeless and their cheek to jowl “Obamavilles’
    The desperation and poverty looked streets like a third world country . I s*** you not on this

    • Petunia
      September 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

      I still read the NY papers online, the homeless problem is larger than ever in NYC. They now have the largest number of people ever living in shelters. Since shelters house only a tiny number of the total, I can guess the number of homeless on the streets is worse than ever.

    • NotSoSure
      September 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Well America IS a third world country. Just look at the crumbling infrastructure. Add in the corruption. The big gap between the haves and have nots. And finally, the illusion of democracy.

      • kitten lopez
        September 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm


    • kitten lopez
      September 27, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      “The desperation and poverty looked streets like a third world country . I s*** you not on this”

      –i know. that’s what i tell people about glorious san francisco. there are hidden tent cities everywhere, and there are blocks and blocks of sidewalks with parade blockades permanently placed down the centers so no tents can spring up.

      and street people are no longer “the other.” they are you, me, us. they are your teachers, they are your cooks, maids, they’re even renting you bicycles when you come to visit and ride across the beautiful golden gate bridge. they’re your parents, your kids. they’re YOU.

      i get it. now i really get it. i FEEL it.

        September 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        San Francisco is a “sanctuary city”.

        You get what you deserve. And, if it makes you feel any better, Europe is now learning the lesson.

        • Mary
          September 27, 2016 at 6:56 pm

          I wish I could like your answer. San Francisco can really make you rich if you have what it takes to be rich.

        • kitten lopez
          September 28, 2016 at 11:02 am

          thank you, Mary. i wasn’t feeling as generous as you.

    • Craig Bradley
      September 27, 2016 at 5:40 pm

      Most people in Carlsbad, such as my late cousin, were getting very old (94) and usually stayed home due to declining health and age limitations. Many retirees in this area and they tend to stay home or just go local for some quick errands. This is normal.

  2. Ptb
    September 27, 2016 at 10:01 am

    It would be interesting to see “wage changes” over time for people working in the public sector vs. those in the private sector. As I read the observations of the Fed, I thought about how I’ve seen this for myself and other men in the private sector but not for anyone I know working in the public sector.

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 27, 2016 at 11:02 am

      In my experience (17 years as a U.S. Patent Examiner) Raises were pretty much automatic as steps-in grade for both professionals and clerical people, until the top of the person’s G.S pay grade was reached. After that, Raises were limited to those automatically tied to the C.P.I.

      Of interest but not adjusted for time in a job: https://www.cbo.gov/publication/42921

      • Ptb
        September 27, 2016 at 11:45 am

        There’s a piece of data missing from the concept of wages…job security. Without employment, wages equal zero.
        Is there a graphic analysis of lay-offs in the private vs. public sector? People over the age of 50 employed in the private sector vs the public sector may be even more telling.

      • nick kelly
        September 27, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        No one compares government salaries or especially pensions with the private sector.

        September 27, 2016 at 2:43 pm

        Yeah, but you can’t be fired, unless you are not in the “protected class”.

    • Kreditanstalt
      September 27, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Agreed, but not only that: forget “the 1%”. The entire top 30% of ‘earners’ are doing just fine thank you. Even those on regular government checks, corporate pensions and public sector pensions are well off.

      The real “poor” are the 50%+ (in the private sector) whose upward mobility has been ended, whose real wages continue to fall (IF they have a job!) and whose living standards are sliding.

      • Jon Sellers
        September 27, 2016 at 5:42 pm

        “The real “poor” are the 50%+ (in the private sector) whose upward mobility has been ended, whose real wages continue to fall (IF they have a job!) and whose living standards are sliding.”

        But shouldn’t that be expected from government policies enacted over the last 40 years? Free trade allowed for the off-shore of union jobs leaving workers with less bargaining power. The computer revolution automated millions of jobs. Federal tax law biases towards investment in machinery and computers which cuts jobs. Folks without very specialized skills simply have no bargaining power in the US economy and should see their standard of living falling.

        I haven’t exactly seen these folks out fighting against these policies over the last 40 years.

  3. RD Blakeslee
    September 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Is there anything to be inferred from the chart’s showing that “Some college” and “Masters or better”, are dropped much less steeply that “bachelors”?

    Intuitively, one would expect “Bachelors” to fall between “Masters” and “Some college”.

    • September 27, 2016 at 10:17 am

      I was wondering about it too. And I have no real answer.

      The way I figured it, it has something to do with wages and wage increases in dollar terms. Someone with a master’s starts out with a much higher pay (and later in life) than someone with some college. So 5% (growth or decline) of $20,000 and 5% of $100,000 are not the same thing in dollar terms.

      The report mentioned this issue, and that it impacts some things. For example, the wages of those with less than high school grow fast and start early on, but they will never catch up in dollar terms with the Master’s wages though they grow more slowly and start later.

      But the report didn’t discuss your specific question.

      • Petunia
        September 27, 2016 at 10:35 am

        The some college category often include those who attend a required training class for certification or licensing which never leads to a degree. Could be HVAC license, real estate license, network certification, etc.

      • John
        October 4, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        It would be interesting to see if it would have made any difference if the wage growth comparison had ended 1971-1974. The curve for men peaks in 1973 and that is 2 years after the ending of Bretton-Woods.

    • ERG
      September 27, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Too many have a Bachelors in something useless for gainful employment and it dilutes the benefits of a college education; it does not happen nearly as much at the advanced degree level because by then most have figured out how to connect their sheepskin with an actual, real job. Just my SWAG.

      • Petunia
        September 27, 2016 at 11:25 am

        In Computer Science an advanced degree is almost a waste of time. You can learn more on any job than in school. The PHD is good for teaching and getting a govt job, that’s it.

        • nick kelly
          September 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

          If the micro- computer revolution ( which allows all internet apps) was dependent on degrees in CS, it never would have happened.
          Gates and Jobs dropped out to pursue a business that began as a hobby.

        • r cohn
          September 28, 2016 at 7:55 am

          My daughter graduated from RPI with a Computer science degree.I suggested to her that she go for 5 years instead of 4 years and get her masters.She said that she would learn more by actually working and implied that academic programs were not on the cutting edge.
          She currently works in Berkeley ,Ca and rents a 1 bedroom for $2150/month

        • SMB 543
          October 11, 2016 at 12:30 am

          R Cohn

          Isn’t living in Troy for 4 years enough punishment?

    • Tim
      September 27, 2016 at 11:19 am

      management comes from masters or better.

      • marty
        September 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

        That depends. mbas are a dime a dozen these days. other masters often are in a technical track, not a management track. Old engineers get dumped for 2 recent grads–or Indians on H1bs.

        • nick kelly
          September 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          Until recently the two export power houses Germany and Japan had no schools of business. The oldest one in Germany dates from the mid-nineties.
          While MBAs and lawyers were leading GM off a cliff, the auto biz in both places was doing fine- without either.
          I’ve been told that the idea of learning about business in general and then entering management of one is not easily translatable to the Japanese.

        • Tim
          September 27, 2016 at 2:04 pm

          so what category do managers come from? They skew the income for the pool.

        • william
          September 27, 2016 at 10:39 pm

          myth: MBA “dime-a-dozen” saying. You can enter MBA as a search term in a job board search engine and see how many prefer or require an MBA. Also, websites like payscale.com and Linkedin.com have years of data on the extra salary MBAs collect. Plus, personally, I always add $20k to $40k to my salary requirements if a job posting mentions MBA.

  4. Felix_47
    September 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

    As a former California business owner my take is that the traditional model was shaped by unions and to a degree societal homogeneity. It is a lot easier to pay employees decently when they are like the employer. When I started in the Laborer’s Union the guys at the bottom worked a lot harder than the guys with seniority. The older “book men” basically did not do much. It was the same with the Teamsters. So in terms of productivity it dropped over time. But the unions were powerful and maintained seniority rules and pay rules that established an increase in pay over the years. Later as an employer I considered raises for my employees over time to be fair and reasonable because taht is the way I was brought up. Over time the older employees made a lot more money although their productivity often was less than the new ones….or at least the ones that had a year of two of experience. Having been a union member it just made sense to do it that way…..to pay by seniority to a degree. Now our business majors have determined that we should simply pay for production, and pay the lowest possible number and, of not, offshore it. They are right mathematically. Of course, wages are such a small part of production costs generally that one wonders if long term it is worth screwing employees. I suspect we are learning it is not worth it for a society if we want a society that is relatively equal and peaceful. I closed my business not over wages, though, but over out of control litigation costs. Worker’s Comp, regulations, inspections etc. were over the top. But again in the big picture there are a lot of crappy employers. Looking at the opportunities for my kids is really horrifying. It seems like a government job is the only option left. I note that surveys of German youth seem to show the same thing. Native Germans would prefer a government job. Wages remain depressed because the labor pool from the third world is bottomless. Why hire a German when you can hire an Afghan or Nigerian for half the price? This is a new finding for Germany although it has been the case in France for generations. We have the best political system that oligarchs can buy and their goal seems to be culturally and racially divide and conquer and they are succeeding. Revolution may be coming.

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 27, 2016 at 10:39 am

      “It seems like a government job is the only option left”.

      When I graduated from college (Michigan State College [now “University”], BA Production management, I felt what you say would be true and arranged my life accordingly:


    • Petunia
      September 27, 2016 at 10:45 am

      Revolution may be coming.

      Surely they plan to outsource that as well. I read a book on the firm Blackwater some years back which recounted an incident in Africa. The mercenaries were changing sides in the middle of the conflict depending on who paid more. It will definitely be different next time.

    • VarAway
      September 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Minor correction re.Germany hiring Afghans/Nigerians…
      Frau Angela Merker was bitterly complaining about the very
      VERY few asylum ( migrants ) seekers, that were employed by
      the german manufacturers.
      The employers would not mind at all, hiring them.
      The problem is: no skills, no language connection, analphabetic,
      special privileges ( prayer rooms, additional religious days off).
      IOW forget it Mrs Merkel.

    • Ivy
      September 27, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Disingenuous management became more noticeable over the past few decades. At one point, there was a semblance of caring about employees and that tapered off as outsourcing, downsizing and re-engineering took over. Now there is more of a sense of disentitlement, meaning you should be glad to have a job so stop asking us anything.

      My casual survey of employees finds that there is virtually no loyalty to employers beyond the next paycheck. Brand equity has a component of human capital, and that seems more tenuous, although I’d be interested in finding out more about any academic research on the topic.

      One truism from the business world concerns training. Would you want to work for, or do business with, a company that did not invest in its employees? I worked at a company that decided that its IT staff didn’t need all that (read, any) training, and the results were what you’d expect. They only relented when the customers started asking about certifications.

      September 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Today, do all you can to encourage your children to have their own business. Find out what they like to do and OPEN their own business.

      One daughter is a Vet (and initially she could not understand why I insisted she own her own building, work for her self and start out “cold”. I financed the building. NOW she understands.

      One son owns the hottest sports bar in town. He sell alcohol, sports, cute waitresses, sex appeal and fun. Nothing meaningful nor productive, but he NOW understands.

      • Mary
        September 27, 2016 at 7:04 pm

        You are a good father, sir. Take a bow.

        I this age, it is better to become an employer than an employee.

      • AeroFX
        September 28, 2016 at 7:21 am

        When everyone is replaced or laid off who will go to the sports bar? Or treat the dog or cat with no money. Your own boss in the future will be meaningless unless we stop jobs from leaving and being automated.
        Oh and restaurants are doing terribly. The next recession will obliterate that herd. There are not many safe jobs left. Just ask anyone on Wall St etc.

    • richard
      September 28, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      In the UK, at one time, working in a skilled job in the Electricity sector was much the same as working for the government. Then that got privatised – more precisely broken up and sold to foreign companies. The staff were offered great deals to retire early. Now the companies complain that they “can’t get the staff” and want to hire from India. I think I see a pattern forming here.

  5. September 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

    My father and uncles saw their wages / earnings rise the most between the ages of 45 and 60. What s happenned nowadays isn t typical of the past. I The FED is telling more whoppers to try to justify their awful management of the economy; unfortunately their (mis)management has been all in favor of the financial sector and their wealthy clients.
    They may get the mainstream media to go along with their fabrications but people have begun to see through their BS.
    That 4.5 trill FED balance sheet of printed money: that s what s paid for all these 100 million $ residences, artworks, the private jets, golf courses etc…but guess who will have to service that gigantic debt? yup the remnants of the middle and upper middle class (next in line to be ‘wealth-transferred’ I bet).
    And btw the happy dayz real estate bubble here in Miami has tripled the homeless pop. have a nice day banksters!

      September 27, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      One error in your comment. It is not “mis-management”. It is intentional. They know what they are doing.

  6. Al
    September 27, 2016 at 10:17 am

    We don’t need small banks, mega banks are future
    We don’t need small business, mega corporations are the future.
    We dont need no middle class, super rich rulling class and slaves are enough
    And thinking about it, with all the automatization coming on line we don’t need that many slaves either

    • RD Blakeslee
      September 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

      “They buy me and sell me…it’s a game…sometime I’ll
      break loose…”

      Carl Sandberg – “The People – Yes”

    • Al
      September 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Sorry, this comment bellong for prevous article, about banks

      • September 27, 2016 at 12:54 pm

        You can re-post the same comment in the place where you originally meant to place it, no problem.

  7. bead
    September 27, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Need more extenders, 0 down 0% interest no payments for 12 months, rinse and repeat. Then helicopters and the jubilee. Super Keynes!

  8. LG
    September 27, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Meh , wait till 200 million legal Chinese homeowners relocate to their newly aquired house in the USA!

    • Petunia
      September 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

      Invasion by other means. Inscrutable.

      • RD Blakeslee
        September 27, 2016 at 11:49 am

        Chinese behavior used to be called “Mercantilism – England built an empire that way.

    • Maximus Minimus
      September 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      It is already under way, and is creating quite some tensions. And to respond to another post; that is why revolution will never happen: to much local tribal strife saves the establishment’s skin.

  9. OutLookingIn
    September 27, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Surveys are but a small slice of frozen time in an open, actively moving stream of ever changing facts and circumstances. They along with their analyst’s findings, are only as good as the baseline data and methodology used to produce the final results.
    With the above in mind, in the current age of adumbration and camouflage that is prevalent in “official” statistics, its best not to afford a very high degree accuracy, nor even honesty. Since it would seem that entire data systems are carefully designed to conceal more than they reveal, such as the official inflation rate.
    Speaking metaphorically; Looking at a particular scene in the dead of night, with no light, through a dirty window pane, whilst a swirling fog surrounds you! Attempting to ascertain who is coming.

  10. Chicken
    September 27, 2016 at 11:35 am

    I clearly heard just last night during the presidential debate the US workforce was booming and wages are up sharply. Perhaps I misunderstood the message?

    • OutLookingIn
      September 27, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      “Debate” ???
      Its quite easy to “debate” when you know the questions before hand and the “impartial moderator” is partial to you.
      Holt the dolt as David Stockman has said today on his blog, “was in the tank for Hillary”.
      What is not surprising about that? Nothing really, considering the Clinton’s penchant for corruption and general lawlessness.

      • Earl Smith
        September 27, 2016 at 4:29 pm

        It is a precept that in any criminal trial that the accused receive any and all evidence and documentation against her. She is also to be accorded legal representation.

        Since Hillary would never appear before an actual court of law the only trial she will receive is in the Court of Public Opinion. Thus is it right and proper that she be able to lie her way into a not guilty verdict.

      • GSX
        September 28, 2016 at 7:23 am

        You mean Trump and his ilk OutLookingIn? Trump the king of nothing or anything. A liar, a cheat and a non self made silver spoon idiot.

        Include his 3 dumpling offspring. What a first family. Chumps.

      September 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      I caught that too.

      The very first question from the “moderator” was a Pro-Obama, Pro-Democrat, Pro-Hillary statement from the moderator.

      No mention that most of these “jobs” were part-time and Burger King jobs. From the answer Hillary gave, I could tell she KNEW the questions in advance but Trump did not. I am sure she knew all of the questions.

      Typical. (Hey, I’m writing more comments than Petunia)

      • kitten lopez
        September 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        Petunia doesn’t write nearly as many comments as you think. i know; i’ve scoured. but they’re super rich and concentrated so you’re thinking about ’em long after.

    • Edward E
      September 27, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      You heard that right, I immediately caught it too. It’s now ‘Propagandists Gone Wild’, since they’ve repealed the Fairness Doctrine and nullifying the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948.

  11. Bobcat
    September 27, 2016 at 11:40 am

    An old engineer at one of my past employers told me to find a home by the time I’m 40, meaning get situated in a job it’s possible to retire from by age 40. He knew then what I later discovered. Once you turn 40, the recruiters stop calling. Fortunately, I was able to do as he advised. But as I push 60, I know I’ve been lucky.

    I’m not surprised that age 40 is where the inflection point is on the graph above. Wage growth slopes downward as workers have fewer options and less flexibility to change jobs. Employers know this and tend to throttle raises for older workers. In my late 30s, an employer told me I had ” topped out”. I replied, “gosh, I’m only 37. I’ll be working for 30 more years but if I stay here I won’t get a raise. Really? The cost of living will surely go up.”

    Most engineers who are laid off in their 40s and 50s never find jobs paying near as much as the one they lost. Many are displaced from technical work altogether. And yet, we’re told there’s a shortage of STEM talent.

    • Chicken
      September 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

      I think we can pull this phenomenon in about 10 years in the case of millenials, say maybe by 30 years old their real income enters the stagnation period and decay.

      Sounds good to me, just enough time for them to pay off their college education then out on the street with them like hobos, they can live in their self-driving Teslas, tweet and play video games all day.

      Seems that’s where it’s headed.

      • kitten lopez
        September 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        HOLY COW… i didn’t even think about all those life long “un-dischargeable” STUDENT LOANS going into default and how aggressive places like new jersey have been getting about garnishing wages, tax refunds and were they even withholding drivers license renewals????

        • William
          September 27, 2016 at 10:45 pm

          add alimony and child support, then we have a whole new mess never seen in prior generations.

        • Tim
          September 28, 2016 at 10:37 am

          and the most expensive health care system in the developed world.

    • Realist
      September 27, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      I believe they try to sell the narrative of a shortage of STEM talent to encourage enrollment in college for these majors thus ensuring the gravy train educational loans continue. Once trained and in debt up to their eyeballs, the graduates find that foreign visa workers are filling all the jobs. One needs to really think outside the box today to not get pulled into the vortex.

      • MC
        September 27, 2016 at 1:42 pm

        We have a winner.
        I remember when I was a boy in Italy we were constantly told, sometimes in threatening terms, how a shortage of trained nurses and doctors threatened to kill the healthcare system.
        Now I am told there’s actually an oversupply of trained nurses and of some medical categories (pediatricians and gynecologists for example) which has been made worse by a steady influx of medical professionals, often highly qualified, from Greece and Spain.

        Result: trained nurses now earn as much (or as little) as a part-time worker at IKEA and unless you have some good specialization your medical degree is not worth all the money you were told it would be worth.

        In a way it’s like recruiting for the military during a war: you don’t tell prospective recruits they have a high chance to end up with both legs missing and destitute. You tell them if they die it will be a quick, clean death and their families will be well cared for.

    • Petunia
      September 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      That Silicon Valley salary, if you are lucky enough to have it, doesn’t even put a roof over your head anymore. What’s so great about that?

      Silicon Valley isn’t about innovation anymore, it is all about financialization, doing deals. The H1Bs are a cheap way to make it look like they’re still doing something.

      • kitten lopez
        September 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm

        those techies next door that i hosed down, are up to something. every night there are groups of people on computers until all hours of the night. and now there are bent over scrawny white girls staying in tents down on the concrete slab in the sun. they’re up all night on computers at the picnic table (they’re quiet now) and they’re up in the morning crawling out of steaming hot tents in the sun.

        i shut that shit down in a hurry. but they’re INSANE here.

        we know that techie guy who the landlords are trying to buy out of his rent controlled apartment, are scamming these other techie folks somehow. you can FEEL it. it’s creepy. it’s creepy because they’re YOUNG but look like haggard old ladies with matted hair from working constantly and staring at screens.

        you all would NOT believe what’s going on and how people think here out in the OPEN. and they think they’re “progressives” blah blah blah.

        i was defending the KKK the other day. liberal elitist shmucks try to deflect what the cops are doing by taking away the KKK’s right to flyer or send packages.

        defending landlords was ONE thing, but now i’m raging over the KKK’s right to EXIST??? i barely recognize myself anymore.

        sorry, Petunia. i went off on a rant. now i even think the green party’s full of worse shit with their take on alternative energy so we can burn through what we’ve got left.

        i’d vote for Trump with you, just to help things SNAP already, but i’d have a COMPLETE identity crisis at this point.


        • Mary
          September 27, 2016 at 7:08 pm

          So you are someone living in a rent controlled apartment?

        • kitten lopez
          September 28, 2016 at 12:25 pm

          Yes, Mary-

          James and i share a 400 sf rent-controlled studio apartment. i first got here 23 years ago when no one from nicer hoods wanted to even visit anyone this far into the mission. there were feces outside the door, people sleeping under the steps, having sex on the tops of the trash cans in the alley way, and gangs would beat up prospective members in the park on the other side of the fences. we routinely had cops knocking on our doors to reach people hiding out in the backyard from escaping the park.

          but people were still willing to pay a million for a place with all that so i never understood this market.

          we currently pay about $700 a month for this studio we live/work out of, and the tiny space has made us brilliant at this relationship thang. others haven’t fared so well.

          before gentrification, a Mexican family lived in the 1-br shotgun apartment over the garage. i think 4 or 5 people in total. the newer tech couples who’ve moved into the spots downstairs don’t make it the term of a year-long lease. they snap and fight a lot.

          we have a new sweet young lesbian couple downstairs and i told them to talk to us if they ever need help understanding/hearing each other because after the honeymoon of living together wears off, you need help on how to live in excruciatingly TINY studio apartments. it’s hard to keep up one’s own self as well as ANY romantic mystique in such close quarters.

          i thought this was temporary when i moved here in my twenties. was gonna save up for a scrappy little place as i got more into the movie biz. ha ha ha! that is SO hilarious to me now.

          i spent much of my time here feeling like a failure, but now i feel a bittersweet luck. i’ve seen almost everyone get evicted or bullied, along with once-smug home owning neighbors lose their homes and try to get back to the city but they can’t even got a toe hold back in.

          i feel lucky not because i get to stay here to witness the death of the city and wake up to another eviction of a neighbor i’ve known for decades, but i feel LUCKY because the cheap rent enables us to have time to PLAN and LEARN new skills needed in this new dying america.

          and yes, i see a new underground economy sprouting up EVERYWHERE around me. people who want to stay off the books, off the entire GRID, if you will. it inspires me.

          but as someone else said, rent-controlled isn’t everywhere. anything built after ’79 isn’t under rent control, so that’s why there have been a half dozen old building fires recently. and i think rent control is only 4 units or more. something like that. so if you’re in a duplex or a single unit you’re on edge. everyone’s on edge, though.

          you get to live here at the pleasure of your landlord. and if he or she dies or sells?…

      • ML
        September 28, 2016 at 1:44 am

        Other than bring to market ideas that Steve Jobs had envisioned before he popped his clogs, what has Apple done since? Zilch. Apple have gone ex-growth, is living off its laurels.

        The next big thing, to revolutionaries the world, is not going to come out of the US. You have had your day, your 15 minutes of fame. Now it is stagnation and downhill all the way, thanks to the ‘lead’ that the Fed sets, the rest of the world is not waiting with baited breath but with relief that the interest rate war the US is trying to start is not going to interfere with the march of progress.

        (Fascinating invention words. String a few together into a sentence and paragraph and they can come out sounding wise. Or whatever!)

    • BRTSVG
      September 27, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I come from a similar background and have heard this same advice as well. I can vouch for what Bobcat is saying. You can only hope that you don’t get laid off after 50 as I have had.

      As one old engineer once told me ” just remember as an employee you are simply an expense to be minimized, nothing more. And if you don’t like that then leave and find something better.” Which I did by the way.

    • kitten lopez
      September 27, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      yup, that’s my James re engineering. my waaay over-educated colored female colleagues (from my being in the writing world) used to tell James how privileged he was as a white man. he’d cut them off and say, “shut the hell up. you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about and i don’t wanna hear that bullshit anymore.”

      i loved that. but i myself wasn’t sure til i saw James constantly fighting for the little things for his people until he got laid off at Abbott for a younger, cheaper little girl. that’s why he’s renting bicycles for $17 an hour and supporting me on it.

      and Petunia may be right about offshoring the revolution. i don’t get it because no one’s got anything left to lose. certainly there’s no face left to save.

      September 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      As an employer, I have to look at your health care costs. Younger people costs me a lot less. Don’t blame me. Blame GOD or Evolution.

      AND, we employers KNOW you will constantly want a raise. All of us do, but the job you are doing can be done by a younger person for less. Why should we keep you one with all that to consider?

      Would you? If you owned a company and could hire new people for LESS, pay less for Insurance, and not have to give another raise for a while………….hmmm………………..what would YOU do if it was YOUR MONEY and YOUR COMPANY?

      Start your own firm.

      • GSX
        September 28, 2016 at 7:27 am

        A proper prescription for exploitation. Human capital not human beings. Yes your taste is in your….

        How quaint. Lets just take em out back and shoot my gosh those productive and knowledgeable people are old, are such a burden on your biz.

        Pathetic – When you die in pain in cancer or worse I will laugh. Those of you who own businesses are still just human beings. Nothing more get off your high horse.

        • September 28, 2016 at 7:50 am

          You need to understand that “EVENT HORIZON” isn’t a human being. It’s an online persona designed (by the real human being behind it) to annoy, aggravate, offend, and provoke real human beings.

          I block many/most of his comments because they’re just too insufferably nasty and hateful. So the ones you see are the nicer ones.

          I don’t know the human being behind EVENT HORIZON, but I hope he is nothing like EH.

        • Tim
          September 28, 2016 at 10:48 am

          Wolf, that is journalism, and some of us appreciate finding out about that. The behind the scenes view. It also seems there might be some other provocateurs posting. Thanks for letting us know.

        • kitten lopez
          September 28, 2016 at 12:35 pm

          ‘You need to understand that “EVENT HORIZON” isn’t a human being. It’s an online persona designed (by the real human being behind it) to annoy, aggravate, offend, and provoke real human beings.’

          whoa, Mr Wolf! that is so COOL how you said that but didn’t CENSOR. this is part of the confusing “magic” of this…place. acceptance and tolerance without … i don’t even have the WORDS.

          just that i appreciate seeing how you think. you take his teeth out and he takes his proper position. it’s sort of how Mel Brooks explained making FUN of Hitler in the “Springtime for Hitler” routine takes his teeth out. something like that.

          well done. with respect and everything. god i love this place. i could CRY. i get so sad at the constant habitual tearing down of everything beautiful and to see gnawing bitter ingrown evil made small and conniving puts it in its rightful place for me.

          truly Good Morning and thank you for the explanation. you open but protect.

  12. Chicken
    September 27, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Wonder if the plan for global trade was to keep levering it up on debt and pulling demand from the future forever? I figure it must be since the FED bailed out so many criminal institutions and bank insiders from their highly leveraged gambling losses and nobody steering those ships was jailed for their white collar crimes.

    You would get the impression they want to keep the charade pumping or perhaps they’re still dumping assets into strength. Oh, look now they’re heating up the cold war again rinse and repeat this explains fantastic military contractor stocks performance.

    So glad we’re so rich we can afford the extravagance, DC is bustling with high tech military contractors building all kind of technological contraptions. I see another contractor receive an $450B order a few days ago, I think it might’ve been for a crate full of framing hammers?

    I adore the changes, wonderful surprises daily!

  13. Meme Imfurst
    September 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    BOBCAT “Most engineers who are laid off in their 40s and 50s never find jobs paying near as much as the one they lost. Many are displaced from technical work altogether. And yet, we’re told there’s a shortage of STEM talent.” That is the whole idea Bobcat, just as the NASA guys about it.

    On face value here, it would seem that the men should stay home and let the women go to work. And, it isn’t just wage growth going down, it is also the ratio of education to wages that is going down.

    The FED and Wall Street, and the Government are all holding their collective breath that they can get the hell out of Dodge before the shiu hits the fan. And, it will. The ability of the young to handle their education debt, while waiting tables and bars, and still afford to buy a house is laughable, and they feel double crossed by all three above. Even renting is on the edge of a criminal activity by landlords.

    Talk about illiquid, when some dude that happened to get some benefit from TARP, QE ****, foreclosures, etc., and he buys 10 houses and they SIT empty in city after city, year after year, while his greed matures and he thinks he has won the lottery over his peers, well he has another thing coming and it is not a windfall.

    Nature abhors a vacuum, The USA bubble will not last, nor will phony data.

  14. Mike R.
    September 27, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    I’m in agreement with Mr. Teddy Bear. I think this study smells. I’m not really buying that in a healthy economy, older, more experienced workers wouldn’t at least keep up with inflation (e.g., no negative wage growth).

    I am one of the studies males born in the 50’s. Yes it was true that my salary went up quite substantially in the 80’s but that was due to the rampant inflation at the time. By the time I reached my late 40’s, my salary was not increasing with inflation, at least not true inflation. The younger engineers were being brought in at pretty high levels; to attract the talent; however, they didn’t know squat and wouldn’t for another 10 years or so.

    The conclusions of report don’t add up fully in my book. And I’m more than a bit skeptical about the motivation. It seems as though they are trying to give “an answer” to the negative wage growth problem that is more palatable (e.g., it’s just the demographics, stupid). I firmly believe it is more than that.

  15. VK
    September 27, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Once again the FED doesn’t mention energy in the equation. And this is one of the most crucial points, the global economy is energy constrained from an EROEI perspective. In the early 1900’s just 1 barrel of oil equivalent in energy had to be used up to produce 100 barrels of oil, today that ratio has dropped sharply to under 10 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil input, with some estimates showing fracking at a 5:1 ratio. So far this year we’ve only replaced 1 in 20 barrels of oil that we’ve used up in the form of new discoveries per Bloomberg. The economy is a subset of energy, as the energy surplus becomes more and more constrained the economy will either have to become far more productive or endure a prolonged period of sustained contraction. We’ll have depleted a fossil fuel reservoir that took 65 million years to charge in under 250 years from the start of the industrial revolution. So keep looking out below, a radical change in expectations and politics is coming.

    • Chicken
      September 27, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Yet, the price of oil has dropped 50% in recent years, despite inflation.

  16. Bobo
    September 27, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Many working class people (millions) had the stuffing knocked out of them in the private sector job market, so they took the easy way out and went on disability. A monthly check, health insurance, food stamps, etc is better than many jobs that pay under $15 an hour with no benefits. If you live in a suburb or a rich city you would never meet them, but they do exist. I’ve spoken with people who told me that everyone they knew was on disability. Competition for jobs at the lower end is like a war, so many just drop out.

  17. kitten lopez
    September 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm


    so i hit a little collaborative setback in getting help in the technique i wanted to learn (more INTUITIVE draping) to draft the initial pattern, and am now learning the MATH approach i’d spent weeeeeks trying to avoid. so funny how i can’t even avoid my own rule when i WANT to! (“whatever you fear MOST is precisely what you’re going to do NEXT!”– it makes things CONSTANTLY never boring in life)

    so i’ve had to further “quiet” my mind to tackle this FLAT PATTERN DRAFTING way since i’m on my own. i guess in the long run it’s GOOD to finally tackle math where my visions depend on more independence and sound structure (like budgets–although not in america. only in MY woo woo arty world…the math must always add up and fast or we die/IRONY, yes. as i have no room to indulge in even my wildest emotions, i’m the LEAST flakiest person you’ll ever meet even though i try to giggle endlessy when i’m not screaming).

    i digress, Mr Chris from Dallas!

    only to say thank you for the FOCUS because now i’m not trying to learn everything. just how to DRAFT THE INITIAL PATTERN. before i was trying to learn the ENTIRE field of drafting from textbooks at the library. now i can’t hit any true obstacles. i just CAN’T.

    thank you for that.


  18. unit472
    September 27, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Interesting numbers. It goes on now into retirement as well. I’m 64 and have been retired for 6 years. Earning 3% on my investments and with inflation at 2% I have about 18 years left before my capital is gone. I will then have to liquidate my house. My heirs will likely get little to nothing.

    What took a lifetime to achieve Bernanke and Yellen will have consumed with their policies.

    • AGXIIK
      September 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Unit 472

      Copy that
      I’m 64 and still running my business after 25 years being in da biz. 18 years in CA and we went expat from Kleptifornia to Nevada. The intended ROI of capital went down substantially so the business is now the main income source, as it was from 1992. Keeping the business also kept my sanity even though I took it into the virtual realm.
      As for outliving our capital, that’s a question for the ages. Literally. I can keep working even at a lower pace, take the SSI and continue with my firearms training business too boot.
      All things considered it’s not too bad but some day I’d like to hang up the spurs.
      As for the decimation of the middle class. It’s horrid, torrid, sordid and morbid, none of which you want at your front door. A 10% decline in real income over the last 8-10 years coupled with a 9.5% hard inflation in the items that one cannot just sluff off, like rent, food, health insurance and taxes created an inevitable cash crash for people who simply cannot make ends meet or even wave as they go buy.

  19. John Doyle
    September 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    We don’t have tent cities in Sydney, but they can be found here and there in small knots, under bridges mostly. But the dire situation I see here from this blog is just not happening here. Although there is a lot of stress and poverty in the periphery, our safety net and free health services help out. I know it as a pensioner, even though I have to supplement the pension to make the rent.

    • GSX
      September 28, 2016 at 7:31 am

      Anyone advocating for such a good system in the US is considered a communist or worse by business owners and other so called compassionate conservatives. The US is brutal system and does not allow for someone to live with dignity at all. Its a sham and being destroyed by Corporations and some business owners here who think anything like a systems in Europe or Australia is the end of the world. Most US folks have no idea how much better basic living is in other places with reasonable safety nets. Lucky you John. Visit the US for sure but live there LOL – dont waste your time. Its a bizarre place and only getting worse. Gun and youth obsessed to its own detriment.

      • kitten lopez
        September 28, 2016 at 12:45 pm

        “The US is brutal system and does not allow for someone to live with dignity at all.”

        indeed. indeed. indeed. i had NO IDEA people were this cruel in reality. i thought they off-shored their contempt for humanity. nope. it’s right here. barely hidden anymore.

        what saddens me is how LITTLE you had to scratch off to get here to this place.

        it is why i defiantly write love letters or smother people with hugs and kisses the instant they inspire it in me.

  20. old farmer
    September 27, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    It seems that part of what is going on with the middle class is a confusion of two things: standard of living (an economic measure of goods, services, and energy consumed) and quality of life (a psychological measure of health, happiness, and social connectedness). Below poverty level these two are closely correlated, and for a poor person, a rise of standard of living is also a rise in quality of life. But above poverty level, the correlation disappears.
    For many middle class people, their quality of life is in decline (poor health, poor diet, alienation, lack of meaningful work, decline of fraternal and religious organizations, substance abuse, internet addiction, uncivil public discourse, etc.) They mistakenly interpret their problem as a decline in standard of living. Actually, the standard of living for the middle and most of the working classes is very high, certainly by global standards. Compare to the year 1950: most people had a tiny house with one bathroom, one car, no tv, a large part of income required for food, and if the kids wanted some pocket money they had to mow lawns or babysit or deliver newspapers. And yet, despite a lower standard of living, the quality of life was much superior than that of today.

    • night-train
      September 28, 2016 at 3:09 am

      old farmer: Good points. I do think with many there is sense that their expectations haven’t been met. Many boomers were completely playing the keep up with the Joneses game for a long time. Many refused to see where everything has been headed since the early 80s. It was obvious by then that many families had both spouses working because they needed the income, not just to have some of the extras like many did in the 60s and 70s. Where to when both spouses are working and more is needed or desired? Credit. But that game only lasts so long. Madison Avenue did a spectacular job creating desires that could only be satisfied by consumerism. Then Wall Street pulled the rug out from under regular folks and the Fed nailed the box shut.

    • kitten lopez
      September 28, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      COMMUNITY is what’s missing in america now. you’re on your own here.

  21. Julian the Apostate
    September 27, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I have just finished watching Stefan Molyneaux’s video trilogy called Gene Wars. A fascinating thesis-he juxtaposes a theory that has been around for decades, the r/K Selection Theory with human behavior, as a possible underpinning of the age old have/have nots cycle in human history. r selection is a genetic strategy to abundant resources, vs. The K strategy a response to scarce resources. He argues that the organism (in this case people) take their cues from the environment as to which set of genes get “switched on” to deal with adaptation to the current set of circumstances, and it can be passed down to offspring, until there is a radical change in the environment.
    This would explain much, such as the current body politic’s polarization, and the change we all see coming. It even explains the troll phenomenon here at Wolf Street.
    Kitten, I went through a similar cognitive dissonance in my 30’s. My inflection point was Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged. It wàs counterintuitive to everything I thought I knew. I spent two years trying to prove her wrong. I finally had to throw in the towel. Not only could I not disprove her argument I found that she was understating the case.
    As to the subject of Wolf’s article I too fall into the parameters of the survey. I chose a field – trucking – that is necessary to stock the shelves, and for whatever reason is “too hard” for younger people to seek out. So my wages haven’t declined but they aren’t keeping up with real inflation. My company still has the older model caring for their employees so I remain loyal to them. I used to have one of ‘those days’ when I’d wish I’d finished college. Judging from a lot of the comments about IT and Engineering, not so much anymore. It’s still a struggle but I am more fortunate than many. Not that I planned it but it satisfies the gypsy in me.

    • Edward E
      September 28, 2016 at 2:56 am

      Great comment Julian, you appear so intellectual and your comments kind of drew me in, sounds like a great deal you have going where you work. Loyalty is almost priceless. Hope you and your company continue to thrive in this seesawing environment. Some don’t, like for example LazerSpot has replaced a lot of good paying local jobs with somewhat low wage ones. Duane Acklie passed away, now that was a good man to work for. Company drivers could pick their own loads from the entire board with him. Sadly, his son in law had to put an end to that for some reason.

      This punkinhead didn’t plan to be a twuck dwiva either. But it sure grows on ya, I occasionally even wear a bandana that says, ‘maybe I don’t want your girlie office job’. Oh but there were years early on of the thinkolator going… ‘geez Ed, what were you thinking?’

      I had it made, was sought after by the Beasts of Bentonville and moving on up too. Worked with a team doing store set ups and grand openings. But with young and rebellious energy I asked wrong questions, like why my friends had to live three or more to a house or apartment to survive? Then joining up with Henry Ross Perot was the last straw. Back in those days it was pretty much a condition of employment to be a Clinton supporter, since Bubba’s wife was on the board and was Sam’s show pony at the shareholders meetings. He even sent preposterous letters encouraging all the employees to vote for Bubba. Young and green as pie it didn’t sink in until later as to why they threw me in the ditch. What a mob environment, paranoia kicked in, I cannot reveal too much but my dad hired a lawyer to get me out of a stinky mess.

      The pumpkin has been very good, pretty sure they know my whole story. They are originally from Germany as is my family, so they look out for good people who need a little help. They have a tough crust but a soft interior, it would probably be foolish to leave. Nothing is perfect in life, it can get very trying at times, yet we have to appreciate and recognize the good. Ttyl, best of luck to you and yours.

    • kitten lopez
      September 28, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      ‘He argues that the organism (in this case people) take their cues from the environment as to which set of genes get “switched on” to deal with adaptation to the current set of circumstances, and it can be passed down to offspring, until there is a radical change in the environment.
      This would explain much, such as the current body politic’s polarization, and the change we all see coming. It even explains the troll phenomenon here at Wolf Street.’

      you started a whole long conversation here at home because i was wondering if it really WAS something in the water. and have they really and truly killed off or imprisoned most of the warriors who would’ve fought BACK? but then we veered off into ego and psychopathery and how this death machine ONLY exists to kill, exploit, separate.

  22. JIM
    September 27, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I am not sure how the first commenters connected men over 40 having declining wage growth as they age to homelessness, but that is a stretch. First, the homeless population in SF has increased from 6300 in 2005 to 6700 hundred today (from sfgov.org) that is 6% over ten years or less than 1% per year.

    Wolf and I are acquainted with the top SF mental health professional who runs all mental health services in the City. His comment to me is that the vast majority of homeless have mental health issues and related substance abuse issues. Some of the newly minted 400 homeless are surely a result of the economic downturn but, by definition, not the majority or even a significant number.

    Tech workers (a group to which I don’t belong) are not the problem. Any City would love and foster the tech employment that has showered San Francisco with benefits far outweighing its “costs” (Stockholm for example). Housing shortages in SF are caused by elected officials who pander to loud, active, middle class groups (like northbeachneighbors.org) who always want something; which is usually nothing. No changes to neighborhoods, no changes to rent(control), no changes to neighborhood stores, no changes to views, no new buses, etc.

    The “culture” of San Francisco isn’t the gold rush, its not the beat poets, its not its (defunct) history as a financial capital. The culture of SF is change. Those who have voted decade after decade to keep it a little jewel box or history museum are the ones who, in a perfect twist of fate, are suffering in this “boom” economy. If you live in a rent controlled apartment in the Mission and you vote to keep new apartments out, you are part of the problem. Then the available land on which you CAN build apartments becomes more valuable. The City’s “union only” labor policies, tortuous planning process and government graft compound the costs of carry and construction resulting in new housing that only the “rich” tech employees can afford. Its not their fault, its yours.

    Read this excellent article on the housing crisis in SF and decide for yourself https://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/

    • Chicken
      September 27, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      What do you make of this article I happened across a couple days ago?


      When these guys are replaced at age of 30 where do they go, back home or continue making rent?

      It’s a small world you and Wolf both have so much in common.

      • AGXIIK
        September 27, 2016 at 9:54 pm

        Chicken This reminds me of the Pinkertons strike breaking when the workers wanted better work and pay. I was a Teamster 40 plus years ago.
        When the Google punks call out the goon squads to send homeless packing it clearly shows how these neo-oligarchs treat the little people.
        Even kings and queens would give alms to the poor. These nouveau rich punks are worth $30-40 Billion. How about coughing up a few million to help the people living in squalor in the shadow of billionaire row.

        I am far from a social justice warrior or a redistributionist puke so I will say that civilization is judged as to how they treat their most vulnerable; the young, the elderly and the poor.
        I guess that on their fast track to Google-dom and billionaire status they forgot to take a short course in humanity.

        But hey, who am I do judge. Maybe they needed a couple more 787 jets in their fleet.
        One for Brin and his homie; one for their posse; one for their s***.
        Like Obama and his retinue.
        Hard to keep up with the Joneses when you only got one jet

    • kitten lopez
      September 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      duuuude! they’re creating thousands upon THOUSANDS of jobs down in silicon valley and no new housing of any consequence down on the peninsula.

      we’re the oldest/prettiest/most interesting place to go for people who live on their screens and want to add to the fantasy story they’re pitching online.

      how to “solve” it? you can’t. this is capitalism and america and everything’s going how it’s supposed to go. Death Machine kills everything dead. we’re dying.

      i don’t even vote for “affordable” housing because nowadays you’ve gotta be a billionaire or ask for a government handout and i’m tired of opening kimonos just to LIVE. everything’s poison here.

    • kitten lopez
      September 28, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      “His comment to me is that the vast majority of homeless have mental health issues and related substance abuse issues. Some of the newly minted 400 homeless are surely a result of the economic downturn but, by definition, not the majority or even a significant number.”

      i saw the first wave of tech guys getting evicted across the street go mad. as in CRAZY. bat shit crazy. soft sweet suburban guys who went to burning man. believed in the future of technology, even as they were getting evicted and trying to figure out how to commute 2 hours with an electric car that won’t make it that far.

      you act like homeless are “other.” they are US all. the first wave of drug users are on prescription “be happy” meds. how different are they to the illegal drug users? and happy people don’t become addicts.

      and WHY are the broke/insane/addicted even ON the streets? you’re presupposing that’s how it’s supposed to be.

      who cares who’s on the streets or WHY they couldn’t “make” it in this era??? they’re on the STREETS. it’s not their fault anymore. i’m so over that american bullshit lie.

      how can you pull yourself but any bootstraps when you’re chewing on ’em for dinner and someone’s beating you on the head every time you try to get up?

      do you know how expensive it is to be broke? those evicted older tech guys had no idea what life is like with an eviction on your record. then they become invisible. and then it’s OKAY that they’re homeless because they’re destitute, on drugs, suicidal… “mad.” then they BELONG there???

      • September 28, 2016 at 3:15 pm

        Look, Kitten, time to take a deep breath and relax.

        Jim knows – everyone knows – that homelessness in SF is a problem. Everyone also knows that many of the homeless are affected by mental illnesses, addiction problems, etc.

        One of the things Jim objected to was a commenter’s “stretched” connection between homelessness in SF and dropping real wages nationwide of white men advancing into middle age, which is what the article, and the study by the New York Fed, was about.

        Nothing in the article mentioned anything about homelessness. Whatever the many causes of homelessness, it’s not caused because someone’s inflation-adjusted pay drops 3%. The sample in the article were men with JOBS. They didn’t lose their jobs. They had jobs. Their real wages – wages adjusted for inflation – declined somewhat over the years. In nominal terms (not adjusted for inflation), their wages might be flat. This is bad news for these men, but it doesn’t turn them into the homeless of San Francisco. That connection deserved to be questioned!

        • Petunia
          September 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm


          People are so stretched in this economy that a small increase in expenses can send them over the edge. We left Florida over a rent increase of just over $100. We warned the corporate landlord that we couldn’t afford it but they didn’t care. The house sat empty for several months after we left, so they lost the rent and the increase. We had had enough and left the state. That increase could have put us on the street if we had stayed. Our income kept dropping while the expenses kept rising. At some point you just don’t have that extra dollar to spend.

        • kitten lopez
          September 29, 2016 at 10:43 am

          Wolf, i will take a breath and be back even though the thread/post will be old. it’s about taking the time to think and reply with respect, regardless of WHEN.

          i feel that as a woman who feels immense respect here, i owe it to the “circle” here to consider what i say and where i’m coming from–beyond the emotions. i also feel that as a person who has straddled race and class and gender my entire life, i owe it to those who can’t speak, to try and be as clear as possible–in the interest of finding our common humanity.

          the closer my neck gets to the blade of the circular saw, the more i feel the emotional drama and REALITY of charts, graphs, numbers. often used to disconnect from the anguish of such numbers.

          it’s related to love affairs and why my intensity gives even platonic folks vertigo and ice cream headaches with me.

          it’s all connected after all, Wolf. money is hardly separate from the reality i may have to become a cheap broken down hooker who’s on drugs to deal with the reality that my life has become.

          heck– Jackie O wasn’t so pure, either, and Trump’s umpteenth wife looks like ever other eastern european porn star. budgets are our dreams and money also breaks dreams and romance and pees in all our water.

          there is no separate smoking section. EVER.

          i’ll be back later. i’ve got a lot to do on my bicycle these next two days to plan my venture-ette idea!


          have a good day, all.

          and Miss Petunia- thanks for having my back.

          and regarding white men being jobless and homelessness, i didn’t start that part of the discussion, but i had a downright operatic experience with a newly homeless early middle aged handsome white man who wasn’t yet broken down with self hatred and silence.

          he was being taken out to shop by an old charitable friend, and he was reacting to all the callous obliviousness of shoppers. i looked him dead in the eye, stopped and listened to him and he was OFF and running. first he was embarrassed he’d get thrown out, but i said i was with him and let him scream his frustrations of being invisible and having no way out.

          trust me when i say i’m so NOT wanting to start a race riot because i still believe this country belongs to the indians and the Mexicans, but his job had been taken over by illegals and he was clueless about what to DO.

          he was apologetic for not being able to keep himself as clean as he’d like. i didn’t care. i hugged him as much as he needed. i wanted to re-channel his rage away from himself and his confusion.

          there. maybe i did just answer. i was gonna say other stories i’d planned, but they’re too painful for me to recount.

          thank you for giving a damn, reading this far. i only ask that we not get too disconnected from the human beings, the life behind these cold “numbers.” there is no necessary percentage of unemployment to keep the economy healthy, as i was taught by my mother while young.

          who are they? i wanted to know?

          now those numbers are ME. they are all around me and i have no joy trying to enjoy the God of the world on my own while others have broken hearts and are dismissed as necessary invisibles so that others may just remain deadless cold zombies watching screens and consuming consuming consuming.

  23. ML
    September 28, 2016 at 1:50 am

    Coming out Reiterating from my,comment on a comment:

    Other than bring to market ideas that Steve Jobs had envisioned before he popped his clogs, what has Apple done since? Zilch. Apple have gone ex-growth, is living off its laurels.

    The next big thing, to revolutionaries the world, is not going to come out of the US. You have had your day, your 15 minutes of fame. Now it is stagnation and downhill all the way, thanks to the ‘lead’ that the Fed sets, the rest of the world is not waiting with baited breath but with relief that the interest rate war the US is trying to start is not going to interfere with the march of progress.

    (Fascinating invention words. String a few together into a sentence and paragraph and they can come out sounding wise. Or whatever!)

  24. Julian the Apostate
    September 28, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Thanks Edward, for the kind words.

  25. R cohn
    September 28, 2016 at 8:07 am

    The rise of Trump and others in Europe is simply a reaction to globalization and the elimination of US jobs with foreign workers.Corporations are amoral and will ship jobs to other countries as long as it saves them money.The next decade will be one in which those countries which are the largest consumers start to rebel against the status quo.

  26. JohnS
    September 28, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Here is what is going on:
    Marx said it during the century before last century.
    Basically he said that this is a natural evolutionary step.
    The rich still need the poor today to be their servants.
    The rich *used* to need the middle class to support production with higher skilled jobs than those jobs performed by the servant class.
    The problem is that the middle class developed and started demanding quality of life more akin to the rich.
    Now with technology and automation, we are left with an over-abundance of middle class workers that we don’t know what to do with – more educated and skilled than the servant class, but with not enough table scraps to go around to uphold their higher upwardly mobile standard of living aspirations.
    We have an excess supply of middle class people.
    So, for Marx’s ideas to come true in the USA (and it will), we need to cut the middle class out or to let them die out in order to manage the over supply of middle class workers.
    Once the middle class is destroyed, there will be considerable technological progress resulting in the servant class being downsized as well.
    I am surprised people are still wondering about what’s going on.
    Marx said it such a long time ago, but I forgot, the great USA forbids us to reference Marx.
    Now you know why:)

  27. 60s liberal
    September 28, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    good article and discuso.si

  28. kitten lopez
    September 29, 2016 at 10:56 am

    and to many it seems odd that i have a soft spot in my heart for the regular struggling white guy. even as an odd colored girl, the regular ignored white guys are the only ones who were on their own, and thus let me be whoever i was. they never told me to fit in, hush, shuck n’ jive and behave, like every one else would.

    they’d listen to my crazy dreams and help me overcome my terrors. teach me loner swagger. give me a knowing look when i’d try and argue at the dinner table.

    they were truly my brothers and helped me be the wild colored girl who wanted to be an individual. so i’m defensive because by saving those ignored regular guys, i save MYSELF. they are usually guys with epic dreams of love and given no means to implement them for their families.

    i’m not putting others down. i’m saying too much energy is trying to either get into the Big House or reform it. but it’s burning down.

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